Alan Johnson heavily criticised the New Year rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent this morning, warning it would cost jobs and could jeopardise the economic recovery.
Is this responsible opposition? A Tory source points out that Labour would have almost certainly have done the same thing – or at least considered it very strongly. Read more
The 60-year old cabinet veteran Alan Johnson has insisted that he is sticking around for the long-term, despite signals that he is not exactly bonding with Ed Miliband. Their disagreement over the graduate tax and the 50p income tax band are the most visible signs of tension. They are also spending less time together than you might expect. As the FT reported a few weeks ago:
Mr Johnson and Mr Miliband have been allocated the same offices in Westminster’s Norman Shaw buildings once occupied by Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne before the election. But the shadow chancellor spends most of his time in his old office in a separate building.
Alan Johnson has seemed assured and capable since taking the job of shadow chancellor – despite joking that he would need to read an economics primer to get up to speed. (In fact none of the last four chancellors have had proper economics backgrounds).
But his maiden voyage this morning was not the most awe-inspiring of occasions, taking place at the KPMG offices just off Fleet Street. There were only 20 or 30 people in the audience, all of which seemed to be either journalists or accountants from the host company. Read more